March 23, Kathmandu. The fact that a majority of Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) central members and MPs joined the Prachanda-Madhav faction, and the Supreme Court ruling in favor of re-establishing the parliament by dissolving the House of Representatives was another political push by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
If the Election Commission had given the Prachanda-Madhav group to the CPN (Maoist) during this period, Oli could have been in more trouble. But a Supreme Court ruling has given Oli relief, but also made him politically powerful again.
A joint bench of Supreme Court Justices Bam Kumar Shrestha and Kumar Regmi on Sunday overturned the Election Commission’s decision to rename the party, the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-M), after a merger between the then UML and the Maoist Center. The court also explained that the then UML and the UCPN (M) were still in their former state.
Within hours of the verdict, Oli convened a meeting of parliamentary parties at his official residence in Baluwatar and outlined plans for the upcoming political course.
Oli had presented plans ranging from convening a meeting of the revived UML by the court, withdrawing support from the Maoist-led government to a vote of confidence, and what to do about elected representatives after party unity, Oli said. According to a leader who attended the meeting, Oli had briefed that although the Communist Party of Nepal was technically defeated by Rishi Ram Kattel, the political victory was his.
Minority vote in Parliament, majority in the party
Kattel had gone to the Supreme Court alleging that the Election Commission had registered the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) with Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal as its chairmen. His demand was that the party led by Oli and Prachanda should not be named CPN (Maoist).
But the court went a step further and shattered the unity of the then UML and the Maoists.
This not only brought the UML and the UCPN (M) back to legal status as a party, but also the return of Oli, the largest party in parliament, to the UML chairperson and parliamentary party leader. After uniting with the Maoists in the 60/40 ratio, Oli was in the minority in the party committee and parliamentary party. As almost all the UCPN (M) and the then UML’s Madhav Nepal faction stood in the minority, Oli had decided to dissolve the House of Representatives on December 19 using the power not enshrined in the constitution.
The Prachanda-Madhav faction went to the top against Prime Minister Oli and the court reconstituted the House of Representatives on 11 February. Oli was in crisis after the decision to dissolve parliament was overturned. Because the legitimacy of the CPN (Maoist) was still in dispute in the Election Commission and the Prachanda-Madhav group had legitimacy (majority in the Central Committee). When this happens, both the CPN (Maoist) and the Sun sign will not be with Oli.
However, on 23 February, the day the parliament convened, the Supreme Court dissolved the unity process and revived the UML and the UCPN (M). ‘The court’s decision, while technically a defeat, won the prime minister politically. The prime minister has become even more powerful ‘, claims Mahesh Basnet, a leader close to Oli.
Oli has a clear majority in the 121-member UML. The Oli faction also has a majority in the 203-member UML Central Committee before uniting with the UCPN (M). With Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, who are now on the side of Prachanda, it is difficult to reach 40 percent of the parliamentary party and the central committee.
That is why Prime Minister Oli has concluded that he has won politically. Rajan Bhattarai, the prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser, also argues that the ruling has strengthened Oli. ‘The warring factions within the party were led by the Maoists. The Supreme Court dismissed the UML ‘, he says.
It is a challenge for Oli to remain in office as the leader of the UML, which became a major party in the 2074 election. Because, in the 275-member House of Representatives, 138 seats are needed to become the Prime Minister. UML has only 121 seats. As the UML is practically and politically divided, not all MPs can support it. Well, with the help of party leaders and a majority of MPs, Oli can take further action against them.
But even with the Supreme Court’s order on Sunday, Oli has become the prime minister of the coalition government. Oli, who became the Prime Minister on 3 March 2074, was transformed into the Prime Minister under Article 76 (1) of the Constitution with the unification of the UML and the Maoists. The court ruling again made him prime minister of the coalition government.
Now, if the Maoist center withdraws its support, it will have to take a vote of confidence. Oli seems to be psychologically ready to deal with such a situation. As the existence of four parties is still alive in the parliament, the basis for forming a government in various alliances is open. Oli has indicated that he will be able to use it.
Without that decision, his prime ministership would have been in jeopardy. The Prachanda Madhav group, along with the Nepali Congress and the Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP), had tried to bring a no-confidence motion against him.